Barry Willis

Barry Willis  |  Jan 19, 2004  |  0 comments

As any SGHT reader knows, home theater is one of the electronic industry's growth areas. Related niches—DVD, HDTV, and multichannel audio—are equally hot and getting hotter. Cutting-edge manufacturers are pushing into the market like never before, with fascinating innovations.

Barry Willis  |  Jan 05, 2004  |  0 comments

Ever wonder why your cable rates keep climbing? Take a peek behind the scenes at what cable providers have to pay for programming: With only three months remaining on its current contract, ESPN, the sports network, and Cox Communications are still negotiating future annual affiliate rate increases&mdash;which are currently projected at 20%. Merrill Lynch analysts estimate that Cox pays ESPN (and parent Walt Disney Company) approximately $400 million per year, costs that are passed on to subscribers. Cox is seeking a reduction in fees, a move that could become a model for other cable companies and satellite services. Similarly, Fox Sports Net reportedly asked the Cox organization for a 35% increase for use of its 12 regional sports networks. Affiliate fees account for more than 10% of total annual revenue for big media companies like Disney, TimeWarner, and Viacom, according to <I>The Hollywood Reporter</I>.

Barry Willis  |  Dec 29, 2003  |  0 comments

Upscale parents have already discovered the benefits of "mobile theater"&mdash;DVD players and LCD screens in sport-utility vehicles that keep cranky kids content on long drives. Soon they will be able to take the "plug-in drug"&mdash;broadcast television&mdash;with them as well.

Barry Willis  |  Dec 29, 2003  |  0 comments

The <A HREF="">Home Recording Rights Coalition</A> (HRRC) has thrown its support behind a proposal that could extend consumers' rights in the digital age.

Barry Willis  |  Dec 29, 2003  |  0 comments

<I>Elliot Gould, Nina Van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Henry Gibson. Directed by Robert Altman. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1. Dolby Digital (English, French). 112 minutes. 1973. MGM Home Entertainment 1003775. R. $19.90.</I>

Barry Willis  |  Dec 29, 2003  |  0 comments

News Corp. and DirecTV: The satellite broadcast merger appears to be a done deal now that both the Federal Communications Commission and the US Department of Justice have given their approval. News Corporation will buy a 34% stake in Hughes Electronics, giving it control over satellite broadcasting service DirecTV.

Barry Willis  |  Dec 20, 2003  |  Published: Dec 21, 2003  |  0 comments

News Corporation is about to become the biggest player on the television playing field, thanks to a December 19 approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of its proposed $6.6 billion acquisition of satellite broadcaster DirecTV. The deal would give News Corp. a 34% controlling interest in DirecTV parent company Hughes Electronics. DirecTV has more than 11 million subscribers.

Barry Willis  |  Dec 20, 2003  |  0 comments

A cheaper, better future: New microprocessors from <A HREF="">Intel Corporation</A> could revolutionize the market for flat-panel and slim-profile big screen televisions, according to a December 17 <A HREF="">report</A> by John Markoff in the <I>New York Times</I>. Leveraging large-scale integration, the company's chips and design expertise could yield big bright high-definition displays at prices far below today's. In what is perhaps a misquote of Intel executive Richard Doherty, Markoff predicts 50" liquid-crystal-on-silicon (LCoS) rear-projection "engines" selling for $1000 by the next winter holiday shopping season.

Barry Willis  |  Dec 08, 2003  |  0 comments

Screener ban blocked: A federal judge in New York has sided with a group of independent film producers in their effort to overturn a ban by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) on issuing preview copies of potential nominees for the annual Academy Awards. On Friday, December 5, US District Chief Judge Michael Mukasey found in favor of the plaintiffs, ruling that the ban runs counter to US antitrust law. He granted a preliminary injunction to lifts the ban, after hearing testimony from filmmakers who claimed that it could severely damage their ability to reach critics and viewers. One filmmaker estimated that the ban could reduce box office sales for independents by as much as 75%, a potential loss claimed to constitute "an unreasonable restriction of trade."

Barry Willis  |  Dec 08, 2003  |  0 comments

Federal regulators appear to have few objections to the proposed buyout of the satellite broadcaster by News Corporation&mdash;which makes for a completely different scenario than last year's aborted acquisition of DirecTV by rival Echostar.